3 Idiots has a Munnabhai hangover
3 Idiots has a Munnabhai hangover
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Monday 28 December 2009
Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani, Mona Singh, Parikshat Sahni and Javed Jaffrey
You can hardly help yourself as you watch the film - you?d expect the best from the best, right? Not always, as you learn here. The film?s a good watch, but not great. And worse, you may be entertained, but you?re unlikely to internalise its core message. The film doesn?t convince you enough.
Part Chetan Bhagat?s Five Point Someone, part Dil Chahta Hai (the invincible friendship) and part Munnabhai, (it also had this writer think back to Ayn Rand?s The Fountainhead that spoke about characters breaking the norm as opposed to those who follow the system), 3 Idiots seems a bhel puri of sorts. Like in Munnabhai, where Sanjay Dutt?s character pleads for simplifying and humanising medicine, here Rancho (Aamir Khan) openly challenges the education system that encourages learning by rote.
New students at a premiere engineering college, the three characters meet on their first day. Rancho, who we are told belongs to a wealthy family, upsets the higher-ups almost immediately. His two other friends Farhan (Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman) form the other two idiots. Their individual stories are fairly interesting.
Farhan belongs to a family where the parents sacrificed the sole family AC for his room so he could study better. Raju?s story, complete with a sick dad, teary-eyed mother and unwed sister is shown in black and white in the fashion of the ?50s movies. You sympathise with his situation while smiling at the stroke of delicious black humour. The film trails their life during the four years in college and after.
A couple of scenes are truly memorable. Like the one where Rancho asks the examiner for five extra minutes to finish his exam paper and describes his reaction ?as if he had just been asked for both his kidneys?. The part where we see students feverishly praying and ?striking deals with God? is also realistic. The ragging appears over-the-top, but it?s amusing nevertheless. The Aall iz well anthem, too, is pretty catchy.
From then on the film slowly disintegrates. Several portions immerse you, only to lead nowhere. Whether it?s the boring romance (and a clumsy kiss), or the few moments of suspense when we realise one of the characters is not what they seem. The portions that deal with pressure on students leading them to suicide is just touched upon. There?s no depth in the thrashing of this topic.
The second half is totally cuckoo, complete with a never-ending scene around an emergency baby delivery that has zero relevance to the story and surprisingly loud melodrama. The finale is coincidence-driven and is too much of a stretch for the viewer to be delighted. And, yes, at three-and-half-hours the film is too long, especially since it?s laden with scenes like the ones mentioned above that could have been done away with.
The humour is average - most of it is juvenile and will tickle those who find the repeated mention of balatkar funny. Characterisation is sketchy and one-note. Aamir is the flawless do-gooder ?hero? who is a genius student, dependable friend and expert advice giver all in one. Heck, he can even look at a girl and magically guess that she?s wearing her late mother?s watch and is missing her at the moment.
Sharman plays a character that does a complete volte-face towards the end, good-naturedly blabbering about all his faults to a stern interview panel and impressing them with his honesty (unintentionally hilarious, this). This is the ending so we can also guess whether he lands the job or not.
Madhavan?s character we don?t learn about at all. Kareena?s med-school student act is just a shield ? she?s rather brainless, ready to marry a man (twice) who insults her just because her romance with the boyfriend doesn?t work out.
Boman Irani does the grumpy principal act again after Munnabhai, this time with less charm. Despite the cast?s stellar performances, they don?t completely take you into their stories. Aamir playing a 20-something student is dependably good, though one can?t help question casting older actors to play roles half their age. Sharman Joshi gives an earnest performance and Madhavan, too, is impressive.
Omi playing Chatur, an ambitious student, has the best lines and is the source of most of the humour. The actor playing Millimetre leaves you with an endearing performance. Technically, the film is functional. The editing could have been more alert, of course. Music is alright - a slight disappointment as Hirani?s films always have memorable music.
So there you have it. 3 Idiots is a film that appears borrowed from too many sources and the haphazardness shows. Editor-director Rajkumar Hirani can?t seem to shake Munnabhai out of his system and appears to have replaced the actor and the setting, while retaining the core formula. Unfortunately, 3 Idiots lacks the effortless simplicity, sweetness and honesty of the Munnabhai films. Though a bit too calculated and designed, 3 Idiots is still an ok option for the significant message, interesting cast and scattered breezy moments.
Rating: 3 stars